Sustainable Vertical Urbanism: Towards 2050

Global Studio  |  2016-17

See the Final Booklets 2016-17

“The Mountain City” by Jared Davis and Drew Armetta, took its design inspiration from the rock formations of southern China, extending the city into mountainous vertical form.

In this year-long studio, students were presented with the following scenario: The year is 2050 and, after five decades of attempting to adapt cities to cope with “natural” disasters of increasing frequency and severity in the face of accelerating climate change, humanity has come to accept a simple truth: that many existing cities—especially coastal cities—are no longer viable into the future. The United Nations has thus established a task force to address the needs of our cities. Students were asked to determine the most sustainable global locations for new cities, and determine how these cities can maximize environmental and cultural symbiosis with both terrain and climate.

In the fall semester, students conducted research in order to determine where these new cities would be best located, relative to; current population densities; the impact of climate change; and the inherent sustainability opportunities of climate and resources locally. Student groups developed the outline strategies for cities in radically different terrains and climates; the hot Saharan desert of north Africa; the mountainous Himalayas; a deforested region of the Amazon; the increasingly flooded Ganges delta of Bangladesh; the grasslands of south Sudan; the melting Arctic; and the middle of the South China Sea.

In the spring semester, students developed their strategic urban designs into the detailed design of a cluster of buildings. Students determined the size, height, function, accommodation, and responsibilities of the building(s), according to their strategic urban plan and a consideration of urban life in the future.